METHANE VENTS LIKE UNDERWATER ZOOS FOR EXOTIC CREATURES
From New Scientist :
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The deep-sea communities live around methane seeps off New Zealand’s eastern coast, up to 1 kilometre beneath the sea surface. The team of 21 researchers from the US and New Zealand, who spent two weeks exploring the area, have just returned to shore.
Cold seeps are areas of the seabed where methane or hydrogen sulphide gas escape from stores deep underneath. Like hydrothermal vents, the gases support unique life forms that can convert the energy-rich chemicals into living matter in the absence of any sunlight.
(Researchers) used sonar to map the seafloor and to detect plumes of water rich in methane, then lowered a video and stills camera system over each site.
This allowed them to record images of tube worms between 30 cm and 40 cm in length as they emerged from beneath limestone boulders. They also recorded corals, sponges and shell beds covered with various types of clam and mussel.